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Lecture 2

SOCA02 LECTURE 2 JAN 17 2013.rtf

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Ivanka Knezevic

Health and Society {Prof’s notes in collaboration to book} Structural relationship between society and health (are reciprocal): both the causes and the consequences of health are social. Social construction of health and disease: definition of health is social Attributed to Drauzio Varella: “In today’s world five times more time and money is being invested in drugs for male virility and silicone implants for women, than in the cure for Alzheimer’s disease. In a few years, we’ll have a generation of old people with perky breasts and hard penises, but none of them will remember what to do with them.” Sociological theories of health: Structuralism Health is necessary for the smooth running of the social system All social structures need to operate efficiently in order for the social system to maintain good health for the population. Social policies reflect this. The sick role: sets illness apart from deviance and enables smooth functioning of society despite illness The sick are exempted from normal roles and duties. They are expected to want to recover and seek out technically competent help. Marxism and Neo-Marxism (Clarke: Conflict Theory) Health and ill-health result from inequitable and oppressive economic conditions Focus: distribution of health and illness across the social structure Engels. 1845. The Condition of the working class in England: dangerous and exhausting work, high density and unsanitary conditions of dwellings. Frequent epidemics. Social construction of illness reflects inequality: 1. Executives claim high stress, but research shows that personal assistants actually suffer from it: stress is caused by high demands and inability to control work environment; 2. Investment in (profitable) treatment and not in (unprofitable) prevention. North America has highest prevalence of most types of cancer, due to chemical and electro-magnetic pollution. White horse study discovered people in higher position had worse health Canada has one of the highest rates in cancer Symbolic Interactionism Social meaning/interpretation of illness. E.g. is bulimia understood as an illness or a personal choice? Are its causes psychological or social? Stigma of illness implies that illness is caused by immoral behavior: unregulated sexuality (eg: being gay), laziness (eg being obese, having ADHD), risk-taking behavior (eg suicide), etc. Foucault: mental illness (folie et deraison) only became stigmatized in industrial society, because of the paramount importance given to production. Pre-industrial societies accepted or revered mental illness, as a sign of divine influence. Feminism Focus on gender inequality, social justice, planning and social changes in health Belief that breast cancer would have received earlier research attention, were it not a women’s disease. Contradictory results of publicity campaigns: improved early detection (although racialized), increased fear, limited investment in research, no initiatives at prevention. Prevalence of heart disease is the same among Canadian women and men, but women are less likely to seek treatment and less likely to be taken seriously by their physicians. High-dose calcium (statins and osteoporosis prevention) contributes to heart disease. Construction of a disease as a “women’s” may harm men: 25% Canadian women and 13% men over 50
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